1. Home
  2. Newsroom
  3. Medford Restaurant New China Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation
Press Release 02-19-2020

Medford Restaurant New China Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

 Despite Arrest at Work, Restaurant Manager Continued to Target Young Women, Federal Agency Charges

MEDFORD, ORE. - A Medford, Ore., restaurant violated federal law by allowing its former manager to repeatedly sexually harass young female employees, letting one worker go after she re­ported the illegal conduct, and creating conditions so intolerable that another worker quit involunt­arily, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, even after the manager at New China was arrested at work and booked for sexual abuse of the restaurant's minor employee, he was permitted to return to work. The EEOC alleges that the manager, who was in his 50s and mostly worked the night shift, repeatedly targeted young female employees with sexual comments and inappropriate touching that escalated from unwanted hugs to groping.

In one case, the manager asked a 15-year-old employee to text him nude pictures of herself. Despite repeated employee complaints and the manager's guilty plea to misdemeanor harassment, the restaurant failed to stop his behavior or discharge him. Instead, New China fired one female employee soon after she reported his inappropriate conduct and another female employee felt she had no choice but to resign, the EEOC says.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. New China, Inc., Case No. 1:20-cv-00277-CL) in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Medford Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks mone­tary damages for the female workers and other relief to remedy sexual harassment and prevent it from recurring.

The agency is attempting to reach all female employees who were victims of harassment or anyone who witnessed the harassment at New China. They are encouraged to contact the EEOC at 1-833-779-3986 or through email:

"These young women ranged in age from 15 to 20 years old and were entering the workforce for the first time," said EEOC Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko. "No worker should have to face what they did. It took a great deal of courage for these young women to report the harassment internally as well as to the EEOC."

Sienko noted that, according to the EEOC's Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, workplace conditions that increase the risk of harassment include workplaces with many young workers, significant power disparities, and isolated workspaces (such as night shift work). "Employers should take particular care to ensure that young, inexperienced employees know they can report unwelcome conduct and that their complaints will be proactively addressed."

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Teri Healy said, "Employers need to know that they have a responsibility to ensure that workplaces are free from harassment. Once you have been put on notice that there may be harassment in your establishment, you must take prompt, appropriate and effective action to investigate and stop any such misconduct. Chalking it up to 'jokes' and personal behavior is an all-too-common response. Failing to take action violates the law."

The EEOC's Youth@Work website (at ) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.

The EEOC's Seattle Field Office has jurisdiction over Oregon.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.